To Clements Markham   25 June 1895

Melbourne 25/6/95

Clement Markham Esq, C.B., P.R.G.S., President of the International geographic Congress.


Honored President.

The Council of the Vict. Branch of the RGSA. has appointed the Earl of Hopetoun its Representative at the Congress, and Mr A. C. M’Donald will send a communication officially to the Hon. Secretary of the Congress.1 The appointment could only be made now as one of the Vice-Presidents of our branch was chosen before, he anyhow intending to visit Europe.2 But he resigned 3 days ago, finding that he had not recovered sufficiently from a long illness to leave by this weeks mail-steamer, for being in time at the opening of the Congress. We hope that his Lordship will be able, though the time is so short, to do us the honor of accepting our appointment. We write to the distinguished and revered nobleman by this weeks mail.3 I thought it best, to write also this hurried letter direct to you.4

Sir Henry Barkly is sure to aid his Lordship in behalf of us.

With the most ardent wishes for a most glorious success of the Congress and my best felicitation at this auspicious event

I remain your regardful

Ferd von Mueller


In thoughts I shall be with you during these memorable days. I place foremost among arctic questions the mapping of the north-polar areas. I long held the opinion that the temperate5 and [snow] at both poles will depend on the distribution of water and land and the height of the latter. At the N. pole we may expect as kind of equilibrium more oceanic space than land on account of the 3 great continents reaching so far northward, where as the vast extent of sea in antarctic regions renders land likely prevalent towards the S. pole.

The joint honorary secretaries for the Congress were J. Scott Keltie and H. R. Mill (Geographical journal, vol. 3, no. 3 (Mar. 1894), p. 220).
John Shillinglaw.
Letter not found.

See F. Scarr to J. Scott Keltie and H. R. Mill, 7 October 1895 (Royal Geographical Society Archives, RGS correspondence 1881-1910, International Geographical Congresses, 1895, S.). Scarr reports that he, Scarr, had arrived in London with a letter from the Victorian Branch of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia appointing him delegate in place of John Shillinglaw, who had resigned through ill-health [letter not found]. He was told that the RGS ‘had not been definitely advised of Mr Shillinglaw’s appointment, owing to which his name had not appeared on the first list of delegates’. Scarr goes on to say ‘I wrote to Mr Macdonald to this effect, and informed him that Dr Mill appeared somewhat surprised that our Society had taken so little interest in the Congress. Mr Macdonald writes me in reply under date August 22 last, expressing his surprise … and says 'I now enclose a copy of my letter to the Joint Secretaries of the Congress in which I distinctly intimated that Mr J J Shillinglaw FRGS had been appointed … I wish you would hand the same to the Secretaries and clear me from the charge of "neglect”. As I am unable to hand it to you personally I take this opportunity of forwarding it herewith to you …’.

A. C. Macdonald’s letter dated 31 October 1894, marked ‘Copy’, is filed with this letter of M’s. It clearly states that John Shillinglaw would arrive in London as the delegate. He also apologises for the 'late notice', and says that Mr Shillinglaw would explain the reasons on his arrival. Macdonald’s original letter could not be found in the Royal Geographical Society’s archives.


Please cite as “FVM-95-06-25,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 19 September 2021,